Ched Evans: A mirror of our society?

 

 

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Regardless of what’s been said about the controversial Ched Evans case, it does hold a mirror up to all of us and it ain’t pretty.

We’ve all seen very drunk people on the streets after a night out, even been one of them ourselves. I have to admit, that at times, I’ve looked at drunks falling over, vomiting or pissing in shop doorways, with something like disdain. Have you?

This disdain turns into something uglier when young women are the drunks. There’s a residue in society mindset that still thinks it’s somehow shameful. What’s worrying is that’s endemic even amongst those younger than I.

We have to ask what happened to us? Why does a drunk/drugged and vulnerable person, over-ride what should be our natural, human, instinct to help them?

It’s as if a drunk becomes less than human and if they fall under a bus, lie in a gutter choking on their own vomit, or are sexually taken advantage of, it is somehow ALL THEIR OWN STUPID FAULT. We absolve ourselves of our empathy or responsibility to help someone vulnerable, male or female.

If the vulnerable drunk was your friend, your sister, your partner; would you feel differently? Haven’t you ever scraped a friend off the pavement, taken them home in a taxi and made sure that they came to no harm? Did you judge them? Were they suddenly sub-human for having a drink too many?

I didn’t think so.

Let’s imagine we are observing the girl in the Ched Evans case.  She was considerably drunk. She was in her teens. Witnesses said she fell over several times, in the middle of a crowded Kebab shop, in the street and she squatted and urinated in a shop doorway.

I can’t help wondering why no-one had the humanity to help someone in such a state, someone who was so obviously vulnerable. Is it that disdain, again? Who are we to judge? What would we do in that situation?

Unfortunately, she ran into a predatory man. Rather than help, he saw an opportunity. He took her, in a taxi, to a hotel room booked by his friend Ched Evans. She left her bag in the taxi and he had to go back for it. We’ve seen her unsteady on her feet in the hotel lobby CCTV.

Tellingly, the man texted his friend, very simply: “I’ve got a bird”.

If we examine those words, it gets very disturbing. The girl is not seen as a person. She’s already a “thing” that has been “picked up” on a street. She is a “kill”, he’s the successful hunter.

She’s a flesh and blood wanksock that offers no resistance. She’s a slut, fair game.

The man takes full advantage, he says she was willing and enthusiastic. We don’t know. Whatever happened, he treated her with no empathy or respect. She was just an “easy fuck”, so out of it, she remembered nothing waking alone and naked in the morning.

During this sexual act, Ched Evans comes back. He lies to Reception to get a key and lets himself in. He knows his friend is there “with a bird”.

Two other friends attempt to film the sexual action on their mobiles, through the window.

Ched sees the woman just like his friend did, a hole to be fucked. He thinks he is entitled to “hop on” for “sloppy seconds”. She is not a human being. She’s a sex doll.

If she was seen as a person, he wouldn’t assume she was “fair game” being naked and in a sexual situation with his friend. He afforded them no privacy. He assumed the spoils of the “hunt” were to be shared.

Afterwards, he snuck out through the fire escape. His friend left her behind, too.

It’s a horrible, sordid, story.

Empathy, humanity and respect for another human being was conspicuously absent.

Terrifyingly, there are people who see this as a perfectly acceptable situation.

If we imagine the girl had met a different fate, if she had crossed paths with a decent, humane man, woman or group, she could have been put into a taxi and arrive home with nothing but a hangover.

When and why did we lose kindness and respect towards each-other? Are decent, kind people a species of human on the brink of extinction?

The rest of the story is even worse. The girl concerned has been bullied, threatened and publicly humiliated.  Presumably, the men and women expressing such vitriol towards her would find it acceptable if a similar fate awaited them, a member of their family or friends.

But that would be different, wouldn’t it?

 

THAT Polanski piece – sin or simplification?

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I’m furious. I am angry for everyone who has been raped, sexually assaulted, bullied, drugged, harassed, exposed, shamed and vilified because someone with POWER decided they were an object to be taken advantage of, something less than human, something to be used and discarded.

Far too often, I feel a stab of pain when a ‘journalist’ or self appointed ‘spokesperson’ talks down to victims, from a position of feigned authority and continues the dehumanisation that so many of us feel; without the compassion of experience or any sign of empathy for the lifelong suffering these crimes cause.

They laud victims for being “brave” and “speaking out” as if that means that the wounds were healed, as if everything is all fine now and we can high handedly show sympathy and understanding for the perpetrator. See, it wasn’t that harmful after all, we can all walk away now, nothing more to see here. We’re so intelligently objective we can feel for the man that did this, poor chap, he had problems of his own.

What gives anyone the right to do this? Unless it was YOUR EXPERIENCE you have no right. What your “even-handedness” is actually doing is minimising someone else’s experience. And it’s not just that individual’s experience you are minimising, you are triggering pain in other victims who are at different points in their recovery. You are perpetuating the myth that maybe, just maybe, the victim doesn’t really count, that the crime was not that bad, that there were extenuating circumstances.

The end result is you are hurting the people who have experienced this kind of abuse.

As ‘victims’. we can come to terms with what has happened to us. Face the pain again and finally accept it was ‘not our fault’, that we didn’t do something that possibly caused it to happen. But it never, ever, goes away. We are not ‘the rape’ or the ‘sexual assault’, we can refuse to label ourselves, but the experience is still part of us, even if we refuse to let it totally blight our lives. Even if we write about it to exorcise the pain, to find some sense of justice. Even if we, ourselves, try to forgive the abuser as part of our healing.

What I find unforgivable is excusing the perpetrators and allowing them to escape justice. It leaves something undone, a door unclosed, a tiny nagging infection in the wound that flares up from time to time. If other people and society at large do not acknowledge the wrongness of the crime, how can the victim feel listened to, supported, understood? What happened to you is somehow diminished.

Fame, talent, abuse in the perpetrator’s own background, is NEVER a defence. Nor is war, culture, circumstance, the way someone is dressed, the fact they were drunk or the thousand other excuses rapists and assaulters make.

The fact is that no one has the right to hurt another human being, especially one who is young, defenceless and groomed. A grown man drugging and defiling a 13 year old girl and avoiding answering to this crime for decades, should never be forgiven or let off because he had a difficult life, or because of his artistic temperament, or that he made a ‘mistake’. He is a predator, the likelihood of repeated behaviour of this type is high and he must face and atone for what he has done. Even if the victim has “forgiven him”.

While we’re understanding Polanski, what kind of man lusts after a child, drugs her and then forces his penis into her anus?Is that a positive act? Is that OK? Isn’t there something there that screams hate and defilement? Don’t those bare facts tell you something about evil? Am I missing the nuances here? Is this a ‘sin of simplification’?

If a crime against you is minimised, brushed under the carpet, unacknowledged, it is a ghost of the abuse all over again. It perpetuates the feeling of worthlessness, of not being believed, of shame and self punishment. Unless you understand this, don’t write on behalf of the victims, or think you have the right to pronounce an ‘even handed’ view of the victim and the perpetrator. It’s condescending in the extreme. It disgusts me.

An analogy is someone who sympathises with the guards at an extermination camp, they were acting under orders, it was war, they would have been shot for not obeying orders. They HAD A CHOICE. Abusers always do. They choose to rape, to hurt, to sodomise, to groom someone so they can practice their own sexual deviance upon them. The victims DO NOT HAVE A CHOICE, the only choice left to them afterwards is to let the experience destroy them or survive, it’s as bleak as that.

Unless you have some understanding, some empathy, don’t think you can speak on our behalf. If you are deliberately taking an ‘alternative’ angle on a rape case for notoriety, you are beyond reproach. It’s not clever, it’s not objective reporting or ‘opinion’; it is damaging in a way you can’t imagine.

I’m proud of everyone that spoke up today. I feel the rage across Twitter from people who know and have experienced rape and abuse edifying and cleansing. We are not powerless or weak and anyone defending perpetuators deserves our approbation, if it makes them think more carefully about dashing off an “opinion piece” without regard for the very real consequences.

Shame on you, or in Twitterspeak, STFU.

You’re the only one who understands me

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“You’re the only one who understands me”

was what the man who smashed a glass into my face had said. It was the first warning sign that, somehow, during our vague acquaintance, he had developed an unhealthy attraction to me. I was engaged to a friend of his and we were deeply in love. This man was on the periphery of our circle and played guitar in a band my fiancé sang for. I was 22.

The man had caught me at the bar buying a round and pushed himself up too close to me. I remember smelling his hot skin and backing away so that the bar crushed against my spine. It was awkward. I didn’t want to be unpleasant, but I wanted to end the conversation and get away. I said

“I’m sure that’s not true, we hardly know each other!”

And tried to move to the left and slip by into the crowd.

He put his hand on my shoulder, I shrugged it off instinctively.

“Look, I’ve got to get these drinks back”.

The ice in the glasses was burning my hands.

“I really need your help” he said.

“Please, only you can help me. If you’ll just come over to my flat, we can talk.”

He was making me feel very uncomfortable. I saw a way out.

“OK. I will. Tomorrow. Steve and I will come over.”

He grimaced and I took my chance to slip away and get back to my friends. I took Steve outside and told him what had happened. He was angry, but I asked him not to confront the man, not then.

Nothing more was said and I was confident we three could discuss it all calmly the next day. Rehearsals went well. The man had said nothing else to me. I relaxed a little. Then we were outside a pub, I was drinking wine. The landlord kicked us out, forcing us to finish up and leave. Stupidly, I took my wine glass with me into the street. From nowhere, the man punched the glass into my face as I was taking a sip. The blow was so violent that the glass shattered and cut through my cheek into my mouth.

Everyone, including Steve, dived onto the man. A fight ensued. I just stood there shocked. The amount of blood from my face was soaking into my coat, through my jumper and t-shirt and staining my bra red. I was pushed into a taxi and taken to hospital. It took a while to stop the bleeding. I felt nothing and only have a vague memory of a doctor stitching up my face.

The next day, we went to The Police. The Desk Sargeant asked me to undo the bandage and he recoiled. He called over two PC’s who were also aghast. I hadn’t looked at the damage, but seeing it reflected in their faces, I knew it must be bad. The policemen were gallant and supportive. They left immediately and in righteous anger to make an arrest. We heard later that the man had disappeared.

One year later, we went to court. Actual Bodily Harm. The victim blaming came with the Prosecution. He tried to imply that I was uncontrollably drunk and had pushed and shattered the glass into my own face. He kept talking about the ‘trajectory’. I was so shocked at the audacity of these lies that I began to cry. The man was fined £100 and had agreed to have treatment for a mental condition. I felt humiliated. I had not received justice. I planned revenge in my head that night.

That year, I had bourne the scar like an affliction. I walked into a bar and had everyone stop talking to stare at me. A bus driver told me I had ‘something on my face’ and told me to wipe it off. I saw pity and horror in stranger’s eyes. Children openly stared until their mother’s hurried them away. My face looked so strange, young and smooth on one side, then chewed up and bruised on the other, with a vivid ugly scar.

The crime photographer made me hold a ruler up to the scar. He took black and white photographs that showed every detail. They were sent to the Criminal Injury Compensation Board and eventually I got a cheque for plastic surgery to lessen the scar to some extent.

You can hardly see it now, but the experience of being a victim blamed has always stayed with me. In that court I was made to feel weak, helpless, shamed, for something that was certainly not my fault. Every time I hear of a rape or abuse victim facing a hostile prosecution, it brings back that sick, angry, helpless feeling. I don’t know what the answer is, but I know that victim blaming has to stop.

Screams behind the curtains

It’s a horrible thought, but many women, including me, have had experience of domestic abuse. It doesn’t have to follow the Angela’s Ashes style of drunken man returning home to beat his wife and children, it can be more subtle … Continue reading

Shhh! There’s a cover-up – haven’t you heard?

Nightmare

Nightmare (Photo credit: Jonas Tana)

Welcome to your nightmare

You’re about 8, had a tough life already. You are placed in a children’s home where you are punched, kicked, abused and then raped, lent out to men like a rent boy and generally treated like an inflatable boy doll. You have enough of this and of seeing it done to other kids, so you try to get out of the nightmare:

1. Despite violence and death threats you summon up all your courage and go to the Police.

2. The police take a statement and show you some pictures. They tell you the name of one of the men you identify. You only know your abusers by their first names (and they might be lying).

3. Nothing much happens. The abuse continues.

4. There’s an enquiry. For some reason, all copies of it are “pulped” and nothing gets out in the public domain. You may or may not get slung a few quid to shut up and go away. You wonder what that was all about.

5. There’s another enquiry. Some years later.  This time you are told to leave out certain names. You are interrogated mercilessly. You break down. Your family falls apart as you do. Your wife kills herself. You are left with a 3 month old baby.   A couple of scape-goats from the home are picked out – they are known paedophiles and off they go to prison for a bit.

6. Nothing much happens for another decade or so. You think you are going crazy. You tried to have a normal life, but this just won’t go away.

7. You speak up again, to a BBC journalist. He takes you seriously. At last – justice!  But for some reason it all goes quiet again.

8. You are going crazy. There are spurious court charges brought against you. Twice. Your house is burgled and your car damaged. Some of the other kids who were abused with you die in unusual circumstances. You are very afraid.

8. Many years later, an MP stands up in Parliament and tells a shocked house that one of the original enquiries needs to be looked at again (the one where you were told  to cut out at least 30% of the abuser’s names). At last – justice?

9. The MP’s try to make it go away again. But the journalists want your story now. You have lots of them chasing you , they even want you to go on TV.

10. You go on TV. You don’t name your abuser. But whoops- someone else does. Weirdly all the news reports later say that you did.

11. A rich, powerful and politically connected man says that he has been wrongly named. Everyone runs for cover. He’s not the man that you saw in the photo all those years ago – but does his name sound a bit like the one the policeman told you?  You are no longer sure of anything.

12. You want the truth to come out. So even though it’s not your fault that this man was named by someone else, you go public and apologise.  You wonder why someone told you that was a good idea?

13. The BBC get it in the neck. A bunch of people resign. People that like Rupert Murdoch cheer loudly and think of ways to jump on the BBC even more!  The BBC run for cover. The news is much more interested in this than the abuse.

14. The Mail on Sunday do a hatchet job on you and try to destroy your credibility. Some of their readers are stupid enough to believe it.

15. The news keeps saying YOU named the powerful man that wants to sue everyone. Even today on the BBC they are saying it.

16. You’re fucked. Again.

17. Justice? A dream, I’m afraid.  It was all a dream.  A living nightmare.

Broken Britain – a place to abuse the vulnerable?

care workers found guilty of abuse today

The care home workers found guilty today for abusing vulnerable people in their care I must be getting old, because the news is making me so angry. Railing against society is usually the preserve of those in their teens and … Continue reading